No fewer than 8000 children have been recruited by Boko Haram and Islamic State in West Africa (ISWAP) since 2009 in the North.
The groups were using them as combatants and non-combatants, raping and forcing girls to marry as well as committing other grave violations.
According to a statement by United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes, (UNODC), it was likely that the figure was underestimated, owing to the difficulties associated with collecting reliable data.
In 2014, the abduction of 276 girls from their school in Chibok attracted international attention, unmasking the brutality and disregard these groups hold against children.
A 2017 report by UNICEF found that the use of children to carry out suicide attacks had become a defining feature of the conflict.
A statement by UNODC National Project Officer, Outreach and Communications Sylvester Tunde Atere reads: “Recruitment and exploitation have a long-lasting impact on children’s lives. Today, rehabilitating and reintegrating these children poses significant challenges, not only in view of their number, but also due to the intense and lasting traumatic effects.”
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“In June, UNODC organised a consultative workshop to address the situation of children recruited and exploited by terrorist groups under the EU-Nigeria-UNODC-CTED Partnership Project.
“UNODC gathered all relevant stakeholders in Abuja, including representatives from the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), Federal Ministry of Justice, Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development as well as a representative of the State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states.
“Others are Federal High Court, National Human Rights Commission, Legal Aid Council of Nigeria, the Presidential Committee on the Northeast Initiative, prosecutors, social workers, and civil society organisations, as well as UNICEF, OHCHR, IOM. The Chief Judges of Borno and Yobe State High Courts were also in attendance.”
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